By Sydney Bucksbaum
July 24, 2019 at 08:13 PM EDT

Watchmen‘s original creator Alan Moore is “not thrilled” about HBO’s new adaptation, according to the network’s president of programming Casey Bloys, but showrunner Damon Lindelof says he’s moving full-steam ahead with this message: “F— you, I’m doing it anyway.”

But Lindelof isn’t actually trying to start a war with legendary comic writer Moore. When addressing the room of reporters at the summer edition of the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday, Lindelof explained that Moore’s decision to distance himself from the new adaptation of his graphic novel is “an ongoing wrestling match.”

“I don’t think that I’ve made peace with it,” he said. “Alan Moore is a genius, in my opinion, the greatest writer in the comic medium and maybe the greatest writer of all time. He’s made it very clear that he doesn’t want to have any association or affiliation with Watchmen ongoing and that we not use his name to get people to watch it, which I want to respect.”

Mark Hill/HBO; Inset: Araya Diaz/FilmMagic

Despite Lindelof’s “personal overtures” to explain what his new adaption of the graphic novel would be, Moore remains steadfast in his decision to separate himself from the project and won’t consult on the series, a stance that he’s taken for years on the material.

“As someone who’s entire identity is based around a very complicated relationship with my dad, who I constantly need to prove myself to and never will, Alan Moore is now that surrogate,” Lindelof jokes. “The wrestling match will continue. I do feel like the spirit of Alan Moore is a punk rock spirit, a rebellious spirit, and that if you would tell Alan Moore, a teenage Moore in ’85 or ’86, ‘You’re not allowed to do this because Superman’s creator or Swamp Thing’s creator doesn’t want you to do it,’ he would say, ‘F— you, I’m doing it anyway.’ So I’m channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore, ‘F— you, I’m doing it anyway.'”

He then immediately followed up with, “That’s clickbait, guys! Clickbait!”

Lindelof did promise, however, that the original source material isn’t being retconned or rewritten in his HBO version. “We reexplore the past but it’s canon,” he says. “Everything that happened in those 12 issues could not be messed with. We were married to it. There is no rebooting it.”

And while fans may be wary of another Watchmen adaptation without Moore’s seal of approval, Lindelof explains that he’s a fan of the original as well.

“All I can say is I love the source material,” Lindelof says. “I went through a very intense period of terror of f—ing it up. I’m not entirely sure I’m out of that tunnel. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for this. I had to separate myself a little bit from this incredible reverence to take risks.”

Watchmen debuts in October on HBO.

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